One of my hobbies and interests in the last few years has been making the shift to a more natural lifestyle. By that I mean eliminating the use of harmful chemicals, processed foods, and using ingredients and resources that are beneficial for our bodies. For the purpose of this post I’ll be focusing on non-food areas, as that’s a whole other post in itself.
A few areas I’d still like to transition to natural products are makeup, shampoo (I have tried a couple methods and not found one that is successful), and stain remover for clothes.
Some areas that I’ve already made this transition in are cleaning products, laundry detergent and softener, conditioner, body wash, body and face moisturizer, perfume, hand sanitizer, air fresheners, and, most recently, candles!
Now that I’ve eliminated most fragrances from my life, when I do smell them they are very potent and overwhelming. While I’ve used an essential oils diffuser for awhile now, I have always loved the coziness of candles and missed the aspect of the warm light it gives.
But even as I tried to light my favorite scent from Bath + Body Works (Champagne Toast), I had a headache within minutes. This led me to researching how easy (or difficult) it would be to make my own candles at home with no special equipment needed.
My findings? It is incredibly simple and inexpensive! I invited some of my girlfriends here to join me for a day of candle-making (and snack eating) and it was a success.
- Soy wax flakes. Soy wax is better for you and more natural than paraffin wax (what standard candles are made from). Bonus: it’s also easier to clean up. Ordered from an online organic store.
- Candle wicks. I used ones with a metal bottom, like these, making it easier to work with. Purchased at our local craft store.
- Essential oils. We chose what scent combinations we wanted to make for our candles and ordered the correct amount of oils accordingly.
Our candles ended up being 5.20€ ($5.61) per 8 ounces–way cheaper than your typical candle company, and better for you!
(I should note, our landlords here in Slovenia own an amazing natural cosmetics company. They’ve had it for several decades now–i.e., they are super trendy and way ahead of the rest of us (or at least us Americans) in the essential oils boom that’s taken the world by storm. They have high-quality essential oils at a very affordable price, much more inexpensive than big brands in the States. Thus, our candles were more inexpensive than yours are likely to be if using said big-name companies.)
Other items involved in making the candles:
- Glass/microwavable bowls or a pan for the stovetop. The ideal is a glass liquid measuring cup, which makes it much easier to pour.
- Straws. Use to hold the wick in place.
- Tape. Attaches the straw to the wick and the jar.
- Glass jars. We used a variety of sizes from 4oz – 16oz. (One clever friend even used old coffee mugs!)
- Dish towels. To wrap around the freshly poured candles.
An important note: candles made with essential oils are much less potent in fragrance than their standard counterparts; which, again, for me was the goal. The intensity of the smell also lessens as the candle hardens so you can use more than you think.
There were eight of us ladies who made them and we collectively made over 20 candles. Even in my little kitchen, it took less than two hours for all of us to be done, which was much faster than I anticipated.
- 2 cups of soy wax flakes = 1 cup/8oz of melted wax
- For our three-scent blends, we used 20 drops of each essential oil per 8oz (so 60 drops total in one candle)
- For our single-scent candles, we used 50 drops of one oil per 8oz candle
- A 10mL bottle of essential oils will be about 200 drops of oil
As a group, these were the scents we chose:
- Lemon, Lavender, Rosemary
- Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint
- Lemon, Basil, Rosemary
- First prepare your jars. Roll tape into a small piece and stick it to the metal piece of your wick. Centering it in the bottom of the jar, press firmly, using a pen to secure it tightly to the bottom.
- If you will be using a pourable container to melt your wax, you can now attach your straw. Lay a straw across the top of the jar, perpendicular with your wick. Take a piece of tape and secure it so that the wick is straight up in the middle. Then tape the straw to the sides of the jar to hold it in place.
- Measure two cups of soy wax flakes and place either in microwavable dish or in a pan on the stovetop.
- If microwaving, microwave for 60 seconds, than in 30-45 second increments until melted. If on stove top, stir over medium heat until just melted. *NOTE* Wax, I read, is very flammable–something that really surprised me (am I alone in that?). So you want to just melt the wax, not continuing heating it once melted.
- Then let it sit off of heat for 2-3 minutes. If you do it on the stovetop, pour the melted wax into a liquid measuring cup or more pourable container before adding oils. It will be much easier to pour from rather than straight out of the pot.
- Drop in your essential oils, following the measurements depending on single-scent or triple-scent blends. You can add them slowly, or in different increments depending on what scent you want to be stronger (for example, add more lavender than lemon or peppermint to make that stand out). You can start with less drops and add more as you like. Remember, the aroma won’t be as strong once the candle cools.
- Stir and then pour gently into your jar. *Be gentle with the wick!* If, once you pour it, you tug on the wick, it can fairly easily be pulled up from the bottle of the jar. Not a disaster, but just annoying.
- Wrap a dish towel around the bottom and sides of the jar. We secured it with a clothespin.
- Allow to harden for 12-24 hours. I recommend waiting at least 24 hours before burning.
- Trim the wick down to 1-inch once it has hardened. Enjoy!
We also decorated the jars with a minimalistic look. This amazing, incredibly inexpensive label-maker I purchased last summer has come in handy more times than I imagined it would. We embossed different words, short phrases or parts of Bible verses to label our jars. Then we wrapped twine around the mouth of the jar, and for some we made a little tag that said the candle's scent, attaching it to the twine. You could also tie in dried herbs. Be as creative as you'd like!